Written by Doctor G

8 Tips for Stress Free Holiday Parties with Kids

2007 new yearsWe have a the usual round of holiday parties to attend this season. My kids hate these things. How can I help them and still enjoy it myself? Usually they end up causing trouble or sitting like a lump or clinging to me, continuously asking to go home!

Anonymous, in SD

It is possible to have a good time with your children at a holiday party! This just takes some thought and advanced planning – both of which are hard to do in this busy season.

(tip #1) Be intentional about the parties you attend – you don’t have to go to everything, and (tip#2)you certainly don’t have to bring your children to each event.

Think about the challenges your child faces. What is the main struggle for her at a party for adults? Boredom? Hunger? Shyness?

Boredom: Think back to your own childhood. Kids can not figure out why adults want to just stand around and talk! What is there to do? Will there be other kids at the party? Will there be a place they can play or hang out, and anything they are allowed to do?

Kids will usually find something to do or play. However, you don’t want to spend most of the party scolding them or watching like a hawk to make sure they don’t break a rule or a window.

(tip #3)Bring a few activities for your children in case there is nothing safe for them to do. Books, a board game, a small craft or a Tupperware container of legos all make a great distraction. Think about what devices you might allow your child to bring.

Hunger: Lots of kids don’t eat well, or just don’t eat, at a party. Seven thousand cheese doodles don’t necessarily fix the crankiness that comes when a kiddo is hungry and doesn’t realize it. (tip#4) If this is a problem for your child, feed her before you leave home.  She will still eat some junk but at least you’ll know she’s not irritable from lack of nutrients.

Shyness: First be very clear yourself about what you need from your child. When an adult talks to him, does he need to answer? There are ways for even shy kids to meet new people. Many kids, even loud, out-going kids, get shy when in a new setting with strangers.  Most grow out of this but it can take years! If you’re working on this, (tip#5)set small, realistic goals and give lots of positive support. This is a great opportunity for kids to learn the skill of making a great first impression.

Have clear expectations:

(tip#6)Make your plans clear before the party about how long you’ll stay. (tip#7)Give your child a code word they can use if they are really having a hard time with someone or something. Be flexible with your endpoint. (tip#8)Going home before the situation (or the child) really falls apart is often the best parenting move you can make!

Parents, what other tricks do you have for enjoying holiday parties with your kids?

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